Date: 19 Apr 1948
Place: Aberdare Park, Glamorgan
Jerzy Strzadla was robbed and stabbed to death in Aberdare Park, Glamorgan on the night of 19 April 1948.
He died from stab wounds to the upper chest and throat. It was said that his wounds were very deep which indicated that a long-bladed double-edged knife or dagger with a six-inch blade had been used.
The pathologist that carried out his post-mortem said that he had 44 wounds, three of which were penetrating, one through the body.
It was thought that the motive was robbery.
He was found in a rhododendron plantation with a severe throat wound and had had about £20-£30 stolen from him in notes which were thought would have been blood stained. His open wallet was found near his body and a few feet away his identity card and some other papers, as well as a roll of brown paper were found.
The police later travelled to London to examine a number of bloodstained Treasury notes that had been handed to the police there.
His killer also stole his silver Swiss-made 15-jewel wristwatch that he had had on him without a strap.
His body was found by three schoolboys who were out bird nesting in the rhododendron bushes. At the inquest, a 12-year-old boy said, 'I jumped over the wires into the rhododendron plantation, I thought I saw a bird’s nest in a tree. I started to climb. I glanced into the bushes and saw a man with blood on his face'.
Jerzy Strzadla had been a miner and originally from Poland and worked at the Treherbert Colliery where several other Polish miners were employed. He had been living in the Hirwaun Miners' Hostel in Aberdare since 4 July 1947 after training at the Oakdale Centre. He had been demobbed about six months earlier at the Polish camp at Kinross where it was said he had several friends and the police later went there to carry out their investigations.
House to house enquiries were made, but no one came forward that could say that they had seen him after 8pm on Monday 19 April 1948.
He was seen by a Western Mail and Echo agent between 6pm and 6.30pm at Aberdare. The agent said 'He was of a lovely disposition. He had been coming here for some months. He had the marks of a gentleman, spoke English well, was always very polite and smartly dressed. I know he used to send parcels to his mother, but I cannot tell you where she lived. He never gossiped about himself or his affairs'.
He was later seen by a man from Meirion Street in Trecynon who had been in Aberdare Park with three children. He said that between 7.30pm and 8.00pm he saw Jerzy Strzadla in Aberdare Park alone. He said, 'At the top end of the park a man was waiting for Strzadala who went over to speak to him. They spoke in a foreign tongue and they appeared to be speaking quite friendly. This man was about 24, shorter and fuller than Strzadla. He was wearing a blue pin-striped suit and was clean shaven. He appeared to be of Polish nationality, and I would recognise him again if I saw him'.
The police said that they were interested in hearing from anyone that had seen Jerzy Strzadla in Aberdare Park on the Monday night.
The police also detailed several points that they wanted more information on:
Jerzy Strzadla was described as being of a quiet disposition and a non-smoker and non-drinker. It was said that during the war he had been on active service with General Anders' Army in Italy. When the police discussed a possible motive, they said that so far as could be ascertained, Jerzy Strzadla had lived an ordinary decent life during his 10 months' stay at the Miners' Hostel.
A Hirwaun licensee whose house was frequented by many Poles said that he remembered Jerzy Strzadla visiting his house on just one occasion, and that was only because he had ordered lemonade whilst the others had had beer.
It was noted that the Miners' Hostel where he had been staying hosted nearly 300 miners, a very large percentage of whom were Poles or Yugoslavs, and that it was thought that it would be a formidable task to take statements from them as only a small number of them spoke English.
During their search for the murder weapon, detectives used the latest type of mine detector which had a visual indicator instead of an earphone.
It was also decided to drain a large boating lake in Aberdare Park in the hunt for the murder weapon. The police also cleared the shrubbery on the island in the lake in order to help detectives operate.
However, the murder weapon was never found.
During their investigation the police took more than 600 statements and interviewed many more people.
At his inquest on Saturday 22 May 1948 the detectives involved in the case said, 'We have made a very thorough investigation. My opinion is that the storm that happened during that night destroyed important clues'.
The coroner recorded a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/3004
see Dundee Courier - Monday 26 April 1948
see Western Mail - Friday 23 April 1948
see Western Mail - Saturday 22 May 1948
see Western Mail - Friday 30 April 1948
see Western Mail - Monday 26 April 1948
see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 14 May 1948
see Western Morning News - Thursday 22 April 1948
see Western Morning News - Monday 26 April 1948
see Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 22 April 1948
see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Tuesday 27 April 1948